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Unit of study_

LAWS6364: Environmental and Climate Science in Court

2024 unit information

As the intersecting biodiversity and climate crises continue to tangibly impact the environment and in turn human society, legal disputes are being raised to determine who is responsible, and who will pay. Environmental and climate change litigation is playing a strong part in defining our social and economic future, and it necessarily depends on the information presented to the courts by scientists. Traversing the science-law interface, this unit of study provides a critical overview of the way in which environmental and climate science is used in litigation. In particular, this unit of study considers the engagement of scientists as expert witnesses; the presentation of scientific information as expert evidence in court; the reliance of lawyers on environmental and climate science in developing their case theories; and the impact and influence of environmental and climate science on final judgments. In exploring these topics, core themes and principles that will be covered include: complex causation; cumulative effects; legal and scientific standards of proof; scientific uncertainty; the precautionary principle; and the maxim of in dubio pro natura. Further information about this unit is available in the Sydney Law School timetable, unit of study outline and academic staff profile

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:


Code LAWS6364
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the role of scientists and scientific information in legal proceedings relating to the environment and climate change.
  • LO2. Critically evaluate the use of environmental and climate science in legal cases (eg, determine whether scientific evidence has been used effectively to advance a particular case theory or argument, or to establish a particular proposition).
  • LO3. Integrate and synthesise legal and scientific perspectives and practices, including by differentiating scientific and legal ways of thinking and responding to concepts such as uncertainty and proof.
  • LO4. Understand the theory behind and application of relevant legal principles in environment and climate change cases – specifically, the precautionary principle and other ecologically sustainable development principles.
  • LO5. Develop and apply legal research skills to the oral and written analysis of a specific legal decision, and to the issues arising therefrom.

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive June 2024
Block mode Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
There are no availabilities for previous years.

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.